Today is the first day of winter, a season I always found depressing and cold. Perhaps it’s because I was born in August or maybe it’s due to my love of baseball; but I like sunshine and warm if not hot weather. As I pen this article (about a week prior to publishing) the big conversation in American politics is the Russian interference in our just concluded election and the actions of various players. Let’s explore.
It is all but undisputable that the Russians hacked various American websites including those of the DNC and RNC. They released information (we don’t know if it was doctored in any way) harmful to Democratic candidate Hilary Clinton to Wikileaks which made it public. To exactly what degree is difficult to determine but this undoubtedly helped Republican candidate Donald Trump which was Russia and Wikileaks intent. There is sufficient circumstantial (if nothing else) evidence of a degree of “coordination” between the Trump forces and the Russians.
There is now extremely strong evidence that the Russian effort was with the full knowledge and approval of Russian President Vladimir Putin. With the closeness of the election in several states a convincing case can be made that Trump owes his presidency to Putin. That is not a good situation for America or the world!
It appears that the intelligence community knew most of what we now know back in October. Washington is a terrible town to keep secrets in. The word is that many Democrats urged President Obama to go public with the information and cyber retaliate. Obama chose a different course. He convened a meeting with high Congressional leadership. Democrats wanted to go public; Republicans led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wanted to keep it quiet on the pretense of not wanting to interfere with the election. I guess Mitch thinks staying out of things is prudent if your side benefits from the interference. Ultimately the Obama administration released a “report” on the same day as the Access Hollywood tapes story broke. Can you guess which story the for-profit media ran with as its lead?
Obama didn’t follow up for two reasons. The political reason is that he (like me and almost everyone else) felt Clinton was going to win anyway, so it became a risk/reward situation. The risk was the other reason: any action draws a reaction and what would Russia’s retaliation be? Was the risk to America’s security worth a follow up public disclosure to effectively benefit a candidate that appeared on her way to victory anyway?
The media was at least partially to blame in this instance as it was in many others during the 2016 campaign. The fake news empire of right wing mythology was never going to cover the story anyway. To this day Trump says the intelligence community knows nothing. The for-profit segment, facing more intense competition daily felt forced to run with the “sexy” story that would “sell”.
America ends up being stuck with what Dr. Paul Krugman called the Siberian Candidate. We will see what price we pay for Obama’s expectations and Mitch McConnell’s agenda. Obama tried to do his job and protect the nation. Mitch just knew what was best for his Party and himself. Remember his wife, Elaine Chow, was nominated by Trump to be Secretary of Transportation, a department Trump wants to run a lot of money through. I find it much easier to forgive a well-intentioned patriotic misjudgment than a greedy political maneuver.
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